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  • Max Hyman

Tik Tok. Breeding Grounds for Hate?

Hello everyone. Today I wanted to ease you into the subject of the hatred between Palestine and Israel - using a Tik Tok. As I am talking to teens as a target group, know that it truly is perfectly okay not to know much or anything about the issue at all! I've been brainstorming how to get teens interested in Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the answer to this has always appeared impossible. I, myself, found it difficult to dive right into the history of what's been happening, but once I begun to learn about the past and present of the issue, I found it fascinating. So I want to speak to you about something you all know and love -the Tik Tok "For You" page. Especially during this time of quarantine, I spend far too much time on Tik Tok, usually with lots of guilt for doing so.

Today, however, I found something on my For You page that I thought was the perfect intro to the culture of tension and rage in the middle east. In a Tik Tok (set to the tone of ironic music), user @kosharipapi writes in big font - Eat the countries that exist. Palestinian and Israeli flags approach his mouth and he clearly pretends to eat only the Palestinian flags, in an almost smirking manner. If you have completely no idea what any of that is supposed to know, the most basic concept is that both entities claim to be countries, and many on both sides claim the entire land in question. Anyway, to those familiar to the way Tik Tok is set up, and to social behavior of Tik Tok users, the comments were bound to be a gauntlet of intense arguments.

Sure enough, they are, and I want to show you a few interactions as a representation of the current atmosphere. @israelloveforever writes "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," (Jerusalem is claimed as the capital by both sides, but Israel has control over most of the city). In response, the creator writes with a laughing emoji and "Yes, and Wakanda is also a real country." One user questioned "Then why is one recognized by the UN and over 100 countries and allies with the US, Canada, and Russia, and the other doesn't exist?" The reply, from another, was "Cuz those are the countries that helped it steal the land from Palestine. If you were educated you would know that." One wrote "According to 190 countries it is soooo...." (this is not true, about 130 recognize Palestine officially as a country - excluding the US).

Then, I dug a bit deeper and found not only controversial comments but straight-out hatred from Tik Tok users. @nooattadels writes "Zionists in the comments (angry emoji)", with a response from the creator "I know right." Zionism refers to the movement for the creation of Israel following a rise of anti-semitism in the 19th and 20th centuries. One user, presumably Israeli, wrote "I mean we could blow y'all up (wide eyes emoji)." Elsewhere, Palestinian flags are used throughout the comment section - anything with this flag is Liked by Creator while those showing support receive loathing. At the very bottom, a string of Israeli flags is responded to by the Creator with poop emojis, proving he did a thorough search of the section to delegitimize any comments in unity with Israel.

So, clearly, this Tik Tok's appearance on my For You page was perfect for how I want to introduce you to this subject in general. Hate is ingrained in society on both sides, as though this conflict between societies turns near 100 years old, teenagers on social media take time to put down others. Not only political leaders debate about this behind closed doors, but the conflict is such an important part of life in the region that those our age attack other teens because of who they are. Hate has been passed down from generation to generation. Why? What made this conflict so inhumane? I'd love for you to learn more on my website to find out. Thanks for reading!

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